How Should You Spend ESSER Funds? Here’s How Analytics Can Help.
K-12 leaders have access to an unprecedented amount of funding since Congress passed three stimulus bills that provide nearly $200 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. The funds have already created financial impact supporting leaders as they continue to navigate the ongoing challenges brought on by the pandemic. ESSER funding will also empower school leaders to dream big and think through critical investments in infrastructure, technology, and equipment that will impact generations of students.
But there is one overarching concern: ESSER funding is temporary, and many needs are permanent.
An EdWeek Market Brief survey asked district administrators about their biggest challenges when it comes to planning how they will spend federal stimulus dollars.
We have high-priority, ongoing expenses that we hesitate to cover with this money because it is one-time funding.
We’re challenged to figure out how this money meshes with other federal money we receive (Title I, Title II, etc.) every year.
Compounding these challenges is the need to remain compliant which is quickly getting complex as ESSER spending guidance evolves. District officials will need to adopt a comprehensive, strategic approach to ensure they are using all of the funding sources available to them in an appropriate and effective manner, while maintaining fiscal strength now and in the future.
Data and Analytics Can Be a Powerful Tool in Helping School Leaders Navigate New Territory
More and more, school leaders are coalescing around analytics and evidence-based insights as tools to help them recover from the pandemic and establish long-term strategies that position leaders, teachers, and students for long-term success.
A white paper from the Frontline Research and & Learning Institute examines specific approaches to build immediate spending strategies while maintaining long-term fiscal strength and accountability, using easy-to-use tools that leverage comparative and financial analytics.
Comparative analytics track consistent, historic data points from multiple districts or schools. By studying comparisons and identifying contrasts, school leaders can develop a deep understanding of contrasting performance and variations at the district and school level. District operation, staffing, enrollment, finance and student performance data sets can each reveal patterns and insights to drive new decisions.
Financial analytics help districts efficiently build annual budgets and multi-year projections, model scenarios, and future impacts to increase transparency and ensure their budget stays on track despite the impact of COVID-19.
Readers will gain an understanding of:
how comparative analytics can inform overall financial strategy.
how financial analytics can be used to develop short- and long-term plans.
how compelling data visuals will help with transparency and reporting.
Most importantly, the paper will help school officials understand the most effective uses of ESSER funding given an organization’s goals and needs.